I think Data just doesn't LIKE to use contractions.

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by TroiFan4ever, Jan 10, 2013.

  1. TroiFan4ever

    TroiFan4ever Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I think Data can actually use contractions. He just doesn't want to. He even does occasionally.

    I remember one of his very first lines in "Encounter at Farpoint" had a contraction.

    In "Genesis" if you listen close enough, Data said "She's no longer human." (When he and Picard discover the Amphibian Troi).

    I even remember in "Datalore" when Tasha and the others check on him after he and Wes managed to get Lore out of the cargobay, he CLEARLY said "I'm fine."

    I remember I kept watching that again, trying to listen for "I am fine" but he definately said "I'm".

    So, what's with Data and not using contractions when even Lore in "Datalore" used contractions.
     
  2. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    He's been busted on this in a number of other episodes as well, I'm sure someone else can provide a full list if there's really a need.

    It was just a plot device for that single episode they didn't really think through coupled with the human imperfection of both the actor using one by reflex and not thinking about it and the director and staff hearing one and by reflex not thinking anything of it.

    It would've been funny if they pulled something like in Armageddon Game. Where Keiko sees a video of O'Brien's death and realizes it must be faked because he never drinks coffee in the afternoon. Well of course it was faked, but O'brien revealed at the end he did drink coffee in the afternoon and he was saved over a false assumption. :p
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    "Datalore" isn't really the source of the problem. "Datalore" simply said that Data speaks more formally than Lore, that informal speech such as contractions doesn't come as easily to him. It was the later episodes "The Offspring" and "Future Imperfect" that implied he wasn't capable of it at all.
     
  4. Seven of Five

    Seven of Five Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    If it was intended for Data not to use contractions, then I can just pretend that he never said any, and just smile when I notice that he's a stinking liar and does. :D
     
  5. Draculasaurus

    Draculasaurus Commander Red Shirt

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    What kind of half-assed robot can't use contractions anyway?
    They're in the dictionary, they're real words.
    He either doesn't like to use them, or likes to lie about not being able to.
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Actually some real people with autistic-spectrum conditions like Asperger's Syndrome prefer to use formal language. For instance:

    http://www.iloveaba.com/2012/09/aspergers-syndrome-milder-autism.html
    Essentially Data's behavior in a lot of respects is very much like that of a person with Asperger's or high-function autism.
     
  7. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    I can see how using contractions could allude a robot, it can allude many humans since there are situations where a contraction doesn't work as well as its counterpart. But the impression I got was just that Data simply "didn't" use contractions rather than "couldn't." But the show took it pretty far in that latter direction at times suggesting Data was simply incapable by way of programming to use contractions, which could have just been another "flaw" Soong built into into the "Data Generation" of Soong-type androids to make them "less human" in order for them to not as easily scare the colonists.
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^As I said, you can find real analogies in the autistic spectrum. Data was built without emotions, and that's more complicated than simply not knowing how to laugh or cry. Emotion connects with other aspects of social interaction, abstract thinking, and so forth. Data sans emotion chip basically could be likened to a high-function autistic, someone who thinks in a more logical, literal, patterned way than most people and isn't as adept at abstractions or fuzzy thinking like slang, elided or contracted words, metaphors and figures of speech, or an emphasis on how things feel over what they mean. It all ties together, really.

    Indeed, in recent years we've come to understand that the whole stereotype of the coolly rational intellectual, as embodied by characters like Data, Spock, Sherlock Holmes, the Professor from Gilligan's Island, etc., may actually be based on the behavior of people on the high-function end of the autistic spectrum (or who have what used to be called Asperger's Syndrome until last year). It's closely related to the stereotype of the robot or computer that doesn't understand human emotion, idioms, etc., and Data was an example of that stereotype (the character was basically a reworking of the title character from Roddenberry's failed pilot The Questor Tapes). So it's not really that surprising that the parallels exist.
     
  9. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    it's a rather silly point. Even if it were a programming glitch or bug, wouldn't it be a relatively easy one for him or Geordi to fix?
     
  10. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    Geordi: Data, I'm going to adjust your fershlugginer chip so you can use contractions.
    Data: Let's don't and say you did.
     
  11. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think the writers they had around in the first season of TNG just really sucked.

    In fact, pretty much every first season episode I actually liked has the Maurice Hurley writing credit.

    I could write an NLP program that can use contractions. Heck, I could practically do it in one line of code. str.replace(/can not/g, 'can\'t).replace(/will not/g, 'won\'t').etc. Data can interpret the exact meaning of complex grammar. I think Soong could manage that one line of code.
     
  12. Squiggy

    Squiggy FrozenToad Admiral

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    From the episode The Offspring...


    And then this...

    LAL
    I've been programmed with a
    listing of fourteen hundred and
    twelve known beverages as well
    as recipes for...

    Data and Guinan react...

    GUINAN
    What'd did you just say...

    LAL
    I've been programmed with...

    GUINAN
    "I've"... ?

    DATA
    Lal, you used a verbal
    contraction.

    GUINAN
    You said I've instead of I have.

    DATA
    It is a skill my program has never
    mastered.

    LAL
    Then I will desist.

    DATA
    No. You have exceeded my
    abilities. I do not object. I
    just do not understand why it has
    happened.


    So...he can't.
     
  13. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    Well, he cannot. ;)
     
  14. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Maybe he's a big fan of Damon Runyon. :)

    Going by that description, I could have been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome when I was a kid -- if the diagnosis had existed then!
     
  15. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    It was interesting how in the anniversary cast sit-down extra on the DVD Spiner mentioned how Data was seen as a "poster child" for people with Aspergers. I'd honestly never drawn that connection before, but now I think I can sort of see it.
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Rather, their work was undermined by the uncredited rewrites done by an unhealthy Roddenberry and his lawyer Leonard Maizlish. Roddenberry's clique and its treatment of the rest of the staff drove away the good writers like David Gerrold and D.C. Fontana.


    But the kind of computer program you would write is not a sentient mind. It's as inappropriate a comparison to Data as the brain of a housefly would be to your own. Data's brain is a neural network, like the human brain. As I've said repeatedly now, the best analogy is to a human being with high-function autism -- a complex, sentient mind, but one which processes concepts and information slightly differently than most humans do and thus can do some things more easily and others less easily. Such people do, in fact, often have trouble with contractions and slang, or at least are reluctant to use them. So you're utterly wrong to assume that it's unrealistic or contradictory. You're using the wrong analogy.


    I strongly suspect the same is true of myself. I don't fit that specific description, but I think I meet quite a few of the other criteria, and it would explain quite a lot about me.
     
  17. Herkimer Jitty

    Herkimer Jitty Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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  18. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    Well if you look at the actual line "It is a skill my program has never mastered"

    Data doesn't actually say his programming doesn't allow him to use contractions, just that his program hasn't mastered that skill.

    And like any skill some people are novie's at it whilst others are masters at it.
     
  19. Start Wreck

    Start Wreck Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    But he only says it when Lal uses one contraction. ie. Her saying "I've" once is more of a mastery of language than Data could manage. Otherwise, he wouldn't have said anything about it.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Which I just chalk up to a bit of bad writing. After all, there are multiple times where Data does use contractions, and they outnumber the two instances where that was claimed to be impossible. There are enough contradictions in Trek that you just drive yourself crazy if you assume every single line of dialogue is immutable truth. Sometimes you just have to ignore things that are contradicted by other things.